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Karnataka Elections: Yediyurappa Dumped, BJP Banking Solely on Modi-Hindutva Cocktail

A string of incidents of communal violence in the past 15 months points to BJP’s strategy to polarise and win, put all eggs in one basket.

Image Courtesy: PTI

Bengaluru: Communal incidents over the past 15 months illustrate how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and associate Hindutva organisations have vitiated the atmosphere within Karnataka. The BJP continues to rely on communal polarisation as a primary strategy to improve its electoral position. Here is a list of incidents which people in Karnataka have been forced to reckon with.


In December 2021, the Government Girls PU College, Udupi, imposed a sudden restriction against wearing Hijab inside the classroom. Six Muslim girls were initially prohibited from entering classes. The issue spread like wildfire within days, with many colleges passing similar orders. Muslim women were subject to humiliation and politicisation.

The issue was tentatively settled by the Karnataka High Court only on March 15, 2022, when it passed a final order allowing schools to restrict hijabs inside educational institutions. The case is now being heard in the Supreme Court. Research has suggested that as many as 700 Muslim women were denied entry to classes in the intervening period. BJP leaders continued to vitiate the atmosphere and made provocative statements against Muslim women. Children were divided along religious lines in schools, and multiple conflicts erupted within educational institutions.


The murder of a Bajrang Dal activist, Harsha Jingade, set off a spurt of violence in Shivamogga. While the police made several arrests within days of the murder, the atmosphere in Shivamogga remained tense. Multiple incidents of vandalism were reported during the funeral procession. The case is being heard in a special court for NIA (National Investigation Agency) cases. All the accused in the murder are Muslims.

During this period, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) stepped up a campaign to hurt the pockets of Muslim street vendors. The VHP submitted a memorandum to the executive officer of Chamundeshwari temple in Mysore to evict Muslims doing business around the temple premises. In Madikeri (Kodagu district), the Congress minority cell complained to the Superintendent of Police that RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and Bajrang Dal activists had evicted Muslim traders at a local fair in Shanivarsanthe.

MARCH 2022

Senior BJP leader, CT Ravi, pushes for a ban on halal meat, calling it 'economic jihad'.

APRIL 2022

Meanwhile, in Dharwad, Pramod Mutalik's Hindu outfit, Sri Ram Sene, vandalised a watermelon cart belonging to Nabisab Killedar, a Muslim street vendor. The opposition parties condemned this incident. Janata Dal (Secular), keen to take a share of the Muslim vote, paid a visit to Nabisab and handed over Rs 10,000 as compensation for his losses.

JULY 2022

Passions were inflamed after the murder of Praveen Nettaru, an active worker of the BJP Yuva Morcha. The killings resulted in a revolt of young workers within the party who began resigning in large numbers. The anger among people was evident when BJP state President, Nalin Kumar Kateel, visited Dakshina Kannada district to visit Praveen's family. Members of the public surrounded his car and began rocking it wildly. The police had to intervene to save the three-time MP of Dakshina Kannada. Later, the police blamed the PFI for the murder of Nettaru.

In retaliation for his murder, members of Hindu groups murdered a young Muslim called Fazil in Surathkal. Fazil was a daily wage worker at HPCL and not a political group member.


The Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Council (HDMC) approved holding Ganesh Chaturthi festivities at the controversial Eidgah maidan in Hubbali. The controversies on the ground go back to 1992 when a fledgling state unit of the BJP was trying to gain a foothold in the state. The BJP demanded that the National flag be hoisted at the eidgah maidan during Republic day and Independence day. The land was held by Anjuman-e-Islam (AeI), which signed a 999-year lease in 1921. While it was used for eid prayers twice a year, it served as a public playground for the rest of the time. BJP raked up the issue of hoisting the national flag on the ground. This was opposed by AeI and the ruling Congress government. Starting in 1992, BJP raked up the issue for three years. The agitation culminated in August 1994 with police firing on protestors which killed four people and injured hundreds more.

In the subsequent Assembly elections in December 1994, the BJP increased their count in the state assembly from 4 to 40. They also swept the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad. The Supreme Court resolved the issue in 2010 when it ruled that the maidan belonged to the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Council and that the AeI only had the right to conduct prayers twice a year. Now, Hindu groups have started a new demand to hold Ganesh Chaturthi at the maidan. The HDMC granted permission for the program, and the High Court refused to curtail events. Subsequently, Ganesh Chaturthi festivities were held at the maidan.

In Bengaluru, a similar issue cropped up with the eidgah maidan in Chamrajpet. However, in this case, the Supreme Court ordered status quo on the disputed property and restrained religious festivities. However, Hindu groups attempted to host Savarkar Utsav at the maidan.


PFI (Popular Front of India) was declared an "unlawful association" by the Union Home Ministry, and state police conducted raids across the state to conduct high-profile arrests.


A bus shelter in Mysore was scrutinised because its design features three domes. It was allegedly inspired by the Mysore palace, but BJP MP Pratap Simha called it a mosque and threatened to demolish the bus shelter with a JCB. He said, "The bus stand has three domes, one big one in the middle and two small ones beside it. That's a masjid only." Within days, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) wrote to the Mysore City Corporation and advised them to remove the structure within one week "since it has developed communal issues". The NHAI further referred to it as an "unauthorised occupation".

Later, two domes of the bus shelter were removed to pacify Simha.

The issue also highlighted the fissures within the party as the local MLA SA Ramdas (also from BJP) approved the construction of the bus shelter. Speaking to reporters, he said, "Rumours are floating online that I have given the work orders to a contractor called Tabrez. This is misinformation. I request the cyber police to look into this matter. So far, at least ten (BJP) party workers were forced to leave the party due to relentless harassment; I may be the 11th one." 


BJP State President Nalin Kumar Kateel, addressing party workers in Mangalore, said, "Don't speak about small issues like roads, drains, and gutters. If you want to protect your children's lives from love jihad, then we need BJP (to come to power)."


VHP demanded a ban on Muslim traders from doing business in and around Hindu Temples and fairs. They wrote a memorandum to the Tumkur District Collector to refrain from allowing vendors and traders of other religions to do business inside or outside the premises of the Gubbi Channabasaveshwara temple. The annual temple fair is held between February 25 to March 19.

The repeated emphasis on communal issues gives the impression that communal polarisation and Hindutva assertion will be the strategy that the BJP will rely on to win the Assembly elections in the state. Noted writer, Shivasundar concurs. Speaking to Newsclick, he said, "It seems BJP is working on communalising the Vokkaliga belt of Old Mysore. Janata Dal (Secular), which is seen as a Vokkaliga party, is dealing with internal fissures. Many stalwarts are deserting the party. The BJP has concocted a story about two Vokkaligas chieftains - Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda - as the alleged killers of Tipu Sultan. This is a rewriting of history as Tipu Sultan was killed by British forces. The old Mysore region consists of 8 districts (in South Karnataka) where Vokkaligas and Muslims have lived together in relative harmony. There are ballads written by Vokkaligas for Tipu Sultan because he was the first person who gave land rights to farmers. Vokkaligas are a largely farming community. BJP is trying to break this unity by building a Hindutva vote bank among Vokkaligas."

The old Mysuru region has been relatively free of communal violence in the last 15 months. Eight districts are part of it.

Here is the breakdown of Assembly seats held by the BJP in the Old Mysore region (district-wise breakdown) -


The BJP has never achieved a simple majority (112 seats) on their own. In 2018, the party won 104 seats. After Operation Kamala, they added 17 seats to their tally and replaced the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Shivasundar elaborates on the BJP's predicament.

"They rely on Narendra Modi. They don't have any developmental agenda or any achievements to show. After the 2019 mandate, the RSS-BJP got a new direction. They want to get rid of the Yediyurappa phenomenon. They want to make it a pure-Hindutva BJP. He has already announced his retirement from electoral politics. In North Karnataka, the RSS-BJP combine needed BS Yediyurappa because of the Lingayat majority. The rise of the BJP is linked to his stature among Lingayats. But now, the RSS agenda among Lingayats is almost complete. Most of the Lingayat seers are also brahminised. They no longer need Yediyurappa, so they can do away with him."

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